Originally from Panama, Lola lives in Co. Leitrim and is very active in her community. In 2021 she took part in our Migrant Electoral Empowerment Programme to learn Irish politics.
Lola Gonzalez works as a Retail Manager in County Leitrim. Originally from Panama, she came to Ireland 6 years ago, joining her husband here, who is Irish. Lola is one of the participants in the Immigrant Council’s Migrant Electoral Empowerment Programme, training migrants in the fundamentals of Irish politics.
For Lola, settling in to her new life in Ireland without existing social and support networks made her sympathetic to the isolation many newcomers to Ireland feel. Her solution was to throw herself into her local community, joining local groups and volunteering her time for causes that matter to her.
Lola acknowledges that for many migrants it can be difficult adjusting the lifestyle here:
“Some migrants will have a language barrier if they’ve another language as their first. Transportation can be an obstacle since Ireland is a country of cars and the public transportation system isn’t well developed. Not every migrant will have the finances to own a car or have a driver’s license. Not having access to services can be another obstacle since you’re not familiar on how to navigate the public systems in place.”
Lola’s community involvement makes her passionate about ensuring migrant representation at all levels of Irish society.
“I feel that sometimes minority groups fail to be heard as no one is representing them where the big decisions are made. I hope to see more migrants take up roles of leadership so others see they can do so as well. I want to live in a community of inclusion and where migrants are treated as part of the society they call home.”
Six years on and Lola relishes her life in rural Leitrim.
“I love the tranquillity. I enjoy the unspoiled nature and slower pace of life. I like that most people know one another in towns. It creates more of a community spirit and a closeness that cities are missing.
“I have come to know people in my town through my job and volunteering in local groups. I think that in the current environment never has this being more important.”
Lola was one of the eighteen people taking part in the Immigrant Council’s 2021 Migrant Electoral Training programme. The training runs for 6 weeks via weekly online workshops with migrant politicians sharing their expertise and personal experiences of campaigning in Irish politics.
A huge thanks to Lola for sharing her story with us!
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